Today I would like to welcome author Karen MacInerney, who was already next on my list for guests when she generously stepped in for my scheduled guest, who became ill.
Karen is an award-winning mystery writer. She has several series published and I found that she even has a cookbook based on the recipes in her books, so you know that got my attention!
Thanks so much for having me!
You have a very easy-flowing style of writing. I usually avoid the obvious questions, but I have to ask how long you have been writing and when you were first published.
Thank you for the compliment! I’ve been writing for forever, really… I am a compulsive reader and have been keeping journals since middle school or earlier. I was first published in 2006; in 2003 I decided I’d always wanted to write a book, so I started a critique group and began Murder on the Rocks, which was later published and nominated for an Agatha Award. I think it’s just what I do; I love language of any kind, and I derive pleasure from putting words together in a pleasing fashion and weaving stories.
You’ve said that you are ‘housework challenged’ but apparently, you like to cook. Perhaps you don’t know that I was a professional cook and baker; I even had my own business. I found that people are intimidated by fancy foods and cooking, and honestly think they can’t cook from scratch. I have an easy entertaining/cooking blog to address that. The recipes posted on your site are extraordinary, but not unduly complicated. Although many of your recipes are rich, do you purposely keep them within basic skill level?
I didn’t know that about you! Yes, sometimes I think we watch Food Network and think we have to own blowtorches or special sieves or have six hours to perfect a dish, but honestly, cooking at its best is a simple, grounding pleasure. I think relatively simple food well prepared is true nourishment, and my recipes reflect that.
You are a mom who likes to write in coffee houses. Is it easier to write in public noise, or is it just to keep away the “MOM!” interruptions? Do you draw on your own family experiences for any of your stories?
I have a hard time working when the kids are home because my attention is split. I am also an extrovert, so I like the buzz of activity and people around me when I’m working, although sometimes I do closet myself for intense work. So it’s really some of both. (Although my children say I don’t respond to “Mom” anymore; I think they burned out the circuit a few years back. When they call me mom, every woman within a half-mile radius responds except me. It’s a bit embarrassing!)
One of your series contains the paranormal, one book series seems very knowledgeable about strip clubs and private investigation, while others take on farming or innkeeping. How did you become interested in these subjects and how do you do your research?
I chose innkeeping because I wanted to read a book set in that environment, so I found out everything I could to recreate the environment on paper. (And I’ve always loved ghosts and the paranormal, so of course I included those!) For the Margie books, I was looking for a clash of cultures to maximize humor… putting a straight-laced suburban mom in all kinds of racy, uncomfortable situations creates a lot of potentially hilarious situations. I just decide what interests me at the moment and will suit the story best, and then start finding out what I will need to from there!
You went to Rice University and live in Houston. Are you a Texas native? Some of your stories are placed elsewhere, for instance, The Gray Whale Inn books are set in Maine, which I can’t think of being more unlike Texas than anywhere else. Where do you get ideas for settings?
Actually, I live in Austin, but I did go to school in Houston! I grew up in the Northeast, and went to my grandmother’s house on Pool’s Island off the coast of Newfoundland when I was a child (my family is from there). Cranberry Island is really an homage to Pool’s Island; actually, several of the surnames in the book come from my family and from other families from Newfoundland. I love that part of the world; it’s in my soul. Both the Gray Whale Inn and the Dewberry Farm series were inspired by friends of ours, Maryann and Clovis Heimsath. When they invited us to their summer rental house on Little Cranberry Island in Maine, I knew I’d found a setting I could use that evoked my childhood memories, and their farmhouse in Fayetteville, which my family visited many times over the years, was the inspiration for Dewberry Farm. I dedicated Killer Jam to Maryann and Clovis; they’re just wonderful people.
[So much for me complaining about writers who don’t do their homework!]
Have you written in any other form or genre?
I’ve written a few short stories, I wrote an urban fantasy trilogy called Tales of an Urban Werewolf that I will be rereleasing in early 2017, and I am working on a few fantasy-based books in my free time. I also have a few ideas for non-fiction books up my sleeve.
I understand that you study martial arts. Can you tell us something about your practice?
I gave myself the gift of starting Seido Karate at 41, and also studied some Systema and Jiujitsu. I have some back issues that have had me decrease my practice, but it has been transformative; I inhabit my body differently and have a sense of strength and confidence now that I never had before. A year or two ago, after leaving a self-defense class at the dojo, I actually broke up a fight next to the cantaloupes at Central Market by walking up and defusing the situation. I never would have done that before… it was very empowering!
Do you have any other interests?
My interests are ever-changing. I’m currently rather fascinated with the concept of “flow,” which is work that is inherently satisfying. My writing is a calling to me, and one of the things I strive to do is keep it deeply meaningful and fresh to me while still satisfying for my readers. I never want to “call it in,” so I am exploring ways to make my work deeper and more fulfilling.
Is there anything more you’d like to tell our readers?
I am so, so, so thankful for you; there is magic in the written word, and you are the keepers of that magic. ❤
How can people learn more about your work?
I spend entirely too much time on Facebook: you can find me there at www.facebook.com/karenmacinerney or, of course, www.karenmacinerney.com, where you can download a free copy of the Gray Whale Inn Kitchen cookbook.
[Yes, I am awaiting my copy; apparently, I didn’t sign up properly.The sample recipes on your site are incredible!]
Thank you so much for having me!
Thank you for being with us, Karen!
[ Karen will not be able to reply today, as her father suffered a stroke and had surgery on Thursday .She is traveling to be at his side.I am sure that you join me in prayers and best wishes for him and for the family.]